State Roundup June 15, 2010

Oil spill concerns reach Maryland’s coast, while citizens protest with their pocketbooks. Ehrlich and O’Malley take their campaigns to firefighters and former state Del. Ken Holt declares for Baltimore County executive. Twists and turns of city taxes stay, while new jobs come to Harford County.

OIL AND MARYLAND: After touring the Gulf Coast area, Maryland’s Rep. Elijah E. Cummings and Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski say BP should establish an escrow fund so taxpayers won’t be forced to pay for the oil spill cleanup if the company declares bankruptcy or is sold, WBFF Fox 45 has a report. WBAL-TV goes indepth on what the three are doing to prevent oil spill problems from reaching Maryland.

GAS PROTEST: More Marylanders are taking their gas purchases to stations other than BP, which has seen its sales fall 20 percent or more, accelerating as media coverage of the spill has mushroomed, Paul West and Brent Jones report in the Baltimore Sun.

GOVERNOR’S RACE: Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich said Maryland has earned its reputation as “hostile to business,” a view that he hopes to overturn as he runs to regain the governor’s mansion. Martin O’Malley touted new Medevac helicopters and other changes made during his tenure. The two spoke to a firefighters conference in Ocean City, writes Brian Shane for the Salisbury Daily Times.

HEALTH REFORM: U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin visited senior citizens in Westminster to answer questions on and explain his support of the federal health-care reform bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama, reports Brandon Oland of the Carroll County Times.

HOLT IN: Republican Ken Holt, a Kingsville farmer and financial adviser who served one term in the House of Delegates, will officially file his candidacy for Baltimore County executive, Mary Gail Hare reports for the Sun.

YOUTUBE CAMPAIGN: Democratic Baltimore County Council candidate Mike Ertel takes a star turn in an amusing video in which he asks befuddled 5th District residents who their county councilman is. Ertel formally filed for office although he has been actively campaigning for quite a while, blogs Bryan Sears for Patuxent.

CITY TAXES: While the Baltimore City Council passes tax hikes on everything from parking meters to income, the millions of dollars raised still will not cover the city’s budget deficit. WJZ-TV’s Kelly McPherson spoke with city leaders and angry workers. And Julie Scharper of the Sun reports that the proposed bottle tax could make a comeback.

NEW JOBS: ManTech International Corp., an information technology company with Pentagon ties, is expected to hire or relocate 500 employees from New Jersey to its new home in Harford County, where it has broken ground on a new facility, Daniel Sernovitz reports for the Baltimore Business Journal.

BARTLETT’S RENT: The editorial board of the Frederick News-Post lambastes the rent payments that state Del. Joe Bartlett  had paid to his girlfriend as surely unethical though not illegal.

TECH COUNCIL: Steve Kozak has resigned after five years as executive director of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council, a nonprofit that holds events to support local tech startups. Jennifer Gunner, GBTC marketing and communications director, will take over while the nonprofit’s board searches for a replacement, Scott Dance of the BBJ writes.

MINE CLEANUP: The Gulf Coast isn’t the only place to see long-term cleanup. The Maryland Bureau of Mines is still cleaning up coal mines in Allegany and Garrett counties that operators walked away from 33 or more years ago, a process that will continuing into “the foreseeable future,” reports Michael Sawyers in the Cumberland Times-News.

SPEED CAMERAS: A Germantown company that holds the contract for the state’s speed camera operation is expected to get approval for another year when the contract goes before the Board of Public Works. The contract would permit the state to expand the work zone enforcement program, Michael Dresser of the Sun reports.

BAY POLLUTION: The lack of visible pollution mask larger ecological problems for the Chesapeake Bay, where often the unhealthiest areas of the bay hidden from view, said Dr. Bill Dennison, of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. Kate Yanchulis of the Capital News Service reports.

RATE THE PLATE: Maryland’s new license plate commemorating the War of 1812 is being met with raspberries in an unscientific Washington Post poll, blogs Ashley Halsey.The Sun’s Liz Kay reports mixed reaction to the tags.

VALLARIO: Josh Kurtz at Center Maryland says it may be “the end of the line” for House Judiciary Chairman Joe Vallario.

NSA POLYGRAPH: The National Security Agency, which employs tens of thousands in Maryland, is trying to reassure people about the lie detector tests they have to take to get their security clearances, Jeff Stein reports in the Post.

MIXED RECOVERY: Maryland’s home mortgage foreclosure rate rose in May, even as the national rate dipped from April. Meanwhile, home sales in the mid-Atlantic region continued to rebound in May. All this paints a mixed picture of recovery, writes Robert Rand in the Gazette.

LEGGETT BACKS KING: Sean Sedam in the Gazette reports that Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett is endorsing Sen. Nancy King in her hotly contested primary campaign in District 39.

PRO-CHOICE: House Majority Leader Kumar Barve criticized NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland for its failure to endorse some of his colleagues.

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